JOURNEYING WITH YOUTH
By Violet Cabral, The Cardoner Network
The Cardoner Network has been supporting local schools in Northern Thailand for over 10 years, working with our partner communities in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces. These communities are largely made up of people from ethnic minorities, particularly the Karen people. Our base of operations in Chiang Mai, Huay Tong, is a Karen village that was settled in the 1940s when the forebears of Fr. Vinai, Maliwan, and Sangwean built their homes in the hills above Chiang Mai. The Cardoner Network volunteers assist at local government schools, whose students and teachers are predominately Karen. Some have boarding facilities for students of remote families, who are cared for by teachers. Our volunteers provide English classes to the students of these schools, and support their co-curricular education. Volunteers share the responsibility of taking care of the boarders, providing extra tutoring and conversational skills.
From the beginning, The Cardoner Network volunteers have also been supporting a local mountain school, Mowakhi School. Mowakhi School is an independent Karen learning centre which is the sole educational facility for three isolated and marginalised villages. Mowakhi School places strong emphasis on the education of students in Karen language and traditions, with village elders assisting the teachers to keep the children in contact with their own culture. Education policies in Thailand do not allow for the teaching of traditional ways of life and the languages of ethnic minorities in public schools, so Mowakhi School needs to operate outside of the government system in order to maintain their cultural focus. This means that Mowakhi School must rely on donations and sponsorships as government funding is not available to them. Mowakhi’s four full-time teachers are not guaranteed renumeration; they support the school out of a love for the children and an investment in the future of Karen culture.
Currently, Max Anderson (Riverview 2022) is teaching at Mowakhi School five days a week, providing assistance in facilitating English programs and connecting with the community. Here is a short reflection from Max himself: “Teaching at Mowakhi has been an extremely rewarding experience. Seeing the dedication of the teachers to help the kids grow academically as well as the students’ eagerness to learn is something I’ve never seen before.”
The Cardoner Network is focusing our End of Financial Year Appeal on raising funds for Mowakhi School. The financial constraints of the school mean that school facilities have fallen into serious disrepair. The school is also struggling to fund the provision of lunch to students and has appealed for help to fund the lunches on an ongoing basis.
The cost to do all the repair work needed at Mowakhi School and provide a year of school lunches is THB 165,690 (around AUD $7,200). Every little bit that we can contribute will go a long way for this community.
- Roof – 66,600 baht ($2,891.91 AUD)
- Fence and gate to the school – 40,600 baht ($1,762.93 AUD)
- Library repairs – 11,150 baht ($484.16 AUD)
- Toilet repairs – 8,450 baht ($366.92 AUD)
- Kindergarten building repairs – 8,890 baht ($386.02 AUD)
- Lunch – 2,500 baht/month = 30,000 baht/year ($1,302.66 AUD)